Friday, April 04, 2008

Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger

By Dan Matovina

Mal Evans had continued to receive reels of Iveys demos from Bill Collins over the past few months. On May 6, 1968 he brought a fourth set of songs into Apple. Peter Asher, who was now Apple's head of A&R, remembers Mal's excitement, "He was talking very enthusiastically about The Iveys. This was unusual. Normally Mal didn't express very strong opinions about anything." Derek Taylor, the label's publicist, said that he was quite taken. "The Iveys had an extremely melodic, professional, coherent sound. It stood out amongst all the other tapes that were coming in. And it sounded like a record, which was the best test."

Paul McCartney was equally impressed. He gave Mike Berry a call. "Paul said to me, 'Have you heard the new Iveys tape? It's fucking great!' I told him, 'That's the sign of a good publisher, Paul. To see it before anyone else does.'"

Word got back there was serious interest from Apple. Beverley recalls, "Apparently Paul McCartney had mentioned that he particularly liked the song 'Knocking Down Our Home.' Pete was saying, 'He really liked it? He really liked it?!' I can't tell you how thrilled he was."

At this point, Collins was pretty much assured The Iveys would be offered a publishing contract. As it was, the key to any Apple deal was The Beatles. In theory, any signings had to be approved by all of them. But, with each Beatle going in different directions, it wasn't easy to get something finalized. Most of the early Apple signings were actually rooted in one specific individual's interest. McCartney sought Mary Hopkin and succeeded. George Harrison wanted Jackie Lomax, 'No problem.' Peter Asher had to have James Taylor, and he secured him. Label president Ron Kass lobbied for his first love, The Modern Jazz Quartet. It seemed all the top dogs got their one hot ticket. "But John Lennon was scathing about everybody," says Asher. "He would say, 'Who needs James Taylor or The Iveys when you have true artists like Yoko Ono?' "

Though the Apple staff was impressed by the new Iveys tape, they weren't in agreement regarding a recording deal. McCartney mentioned nothing yet struck him as a surefire 45 hit. But Mal Evans wasn't about to give up. On May 21, 1968, Mal brought yet another set of Iveys demos to Apple. Peter Asher recalls, "We would normally have a meeting every week or two, which I would be in charge of, and whomever else was available. There'd be some quorum of the Beatles; a couple, or all four, if you were extremely lucky. We had this meeting, and Mal made an extremely impassioned speech about how much he liked The Iveys and believed in them. Paul admired them. George and John liked the new tapes. And we all liked Mal. So there was no hesitation. They became Mal's baby."

Bill and The Iveys were told it was now a matter of paperwork. They were going to be signed to both Apple Records and Apple Music Publishing. The group was stunned. "We were euphoric," says Ron. "Everyone was going crazy. But we didn't have any funds to have a party, so we just ran down to the local pub."

The group continued to do shows -- two weeks of gigs in Italy, sporadic engagements around Wales, a set at The Cavern in Liverpool -- before the recording contract was finally signed and secured on July 23, 1968. It called for a three-year term, with two one-year options. Bill recalls discussing it with George Harrison. "He said, 'Tell you what Bill, you're not going to get ripped off like we were getting ripped off in our day. With us you get five percent and you don't pay for production costs.' I thought that was a fantastic deal. I didn't negotiate this, I'm no businessman. That's what he wanted to do."

The Words and Music of Bob Marley

By David Moskowitz

Even with their original compositions selling well, the Wailing Wailers continued to cover American and English groups. Their song "Play Boy" was a reworking of the Contours' hit "Do You Love Me," and "Ska Jerk" was the remade Junior Walker tune "Shotgun." An interesting crossover was the use of Tom Jones's "What's New Pussycat," which was redone with Bob singing over a piano ska with a club-band-sounding horn section. In addition to covering songs by other bands, Bob constantly studied and learned from other people's music. He was an avid Beatles fan who listened to the albums to acquire the group's craftsmanship and song-writing skills. The Wailing Wailers even covered some Beatles material, such as "And I Love Her" and a remade version of "I Should Have Known Better" that was released under the new name "Independent Anniversary Ska." Bob had the occasion to meet the Beatles in the early 1970s, and he identified with their skill and sense of comraderie. He said of them, "they're bredrens. . . . Jah just love roots [and] those guys are roots."

Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll

By Rick Coleman

The Beatles were not just on fire in 1964, they were nuclear. On Wednesday, September 16, New Orleans' mayor, Vic Schiro, a bald, mustachioed Italian American, presented them with the keys to the city at a press conference before their show at Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park. The Fabs were in top form. "What do you think about topless bathing suits?" asked the local press. George Harrison dryly replied, "We wear them all the time."

The new kings of rock 'n' roll wanted to meet Domino, whose protege, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, opened the tour for them. He agreed to arrange a meeting. Henry's manager and former Shaw Artists agent Bob Astor had booked the concert. He called up Fats, and they went to the show together. When Domino's Cadillac got hung up in the traffic, Astor attracted the attention of a policeman, who guided them through the confusion to a small trailer behind the stage where the besieged Beatles had found refuge.

"'ello, Mr. Domino," said Ringo Starr as he opened the door.

In the trailer George Harrison and John Lennon strummed unplugged guitars. They all serenaded Domino with an impromptu version of "I'm in Love Again." Fats joined in.

Domino's sparkling fingers put Ringo's rings to shame. Paul McCartney was particularly impressed by his huge star-shaped watch, which was encrusted with diamonds. Harrison was charmed by his sweet nature, as Domino modestly deflected their compliments.

Afterwards, Astor asked Domino what the Beatles said to him. Fats replied, "They were talkin' so fast I barely understood 'em!"

Domino watched as 13,000 girls screamed. Police tackled scores of them as they desperately dashed across the field to reach their idols. "I want to thank everybody for coming, including the football players!" said McCartney, before launching into Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." The Beatles had won a fan in Domino; they impressed him both personally and musically. "Everything they wrote I liked," says Fats.